It is still Reconciliation Week, and Australia is undergoing two major court cases where police have shot dead young Aboriginal people. Yet non-Indigenous people remain wilfully oblivious. We are collectively spending more energy in feeling morally superior to other countries, rather than acting towards national change. Specifically, Australian media lead with stories of “violent unrest,” “violent protests,” and “mayhem” in the USA, instead of focusing on police violence against Black victims and protesters, and providing insightful analysis on similarities to Aboriginal deaths in custody in the Australian context.
Australian social media and public commentary are preoccupied with either dismissing current events as unique to other societies (“only in America”), or posting aghast (rightfully) over police brutality overseas. We do this despite not engaging with long-running campaigns led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It’s not that we should disengage from world events; #BlackLivesMatter is an important movement that resonates globally and deserves attention. The issue is the disproportionate focus on the USA by Australians. This maintains our perception that police brutality is an American quirk and allows non-Indigenous Australians to ignore local racial justice movements led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
This post will illustrate how non-Indigenous Australians “other“ national racism, as if it is the abhorrent opposite of our national culture. This is easier than taking the steps we need to address police brutality and racial injustice right here and now.
How does a White male student with no expertise in critical race studies, with little sociological training, publish a peer reviewed article in one of the most prestigious journals in our field? How is this possible when the paper misrepresents the Black Lives Matter movement and intersectionality theory? How does this paper make it through peer review to publication in less than six months? ‘Black Lives Matter at Five: Limits and Possibilities,’ by Adam Szetela, was submitted to Ethnic and Racial Studies on 24 January 2019, accepted for publication on 21 June 2019 and published online on 18 July. The expediency of the peer review process, given the content of the article, warrants strong evaluation.
I express my gratitude to Dr Shantel Gabrieal Buggs, who brought this to public attention, and who led a robust discussion on Twitter with sociologists and scholars from other fields. I’m using this and other examples as a case study of whiteness in academic publishing.
so are we going to talk about how white folks who don’t actually understand the movement shouldn’t be writing about it or……..
mans literally uses the phrase “Black exceptionalism” to talk about BLM and complain about its lack of inclusivity. pic.twitter.com/8WNvwokT3o
Police brutality in Glen Innes, New South Wales, against a group of young Indigenous girls. You can hear one of the girls say she’ll comply with police but she wants to call her parents as they’re under 16. The policeman says no. It seems his partner, a woman’s voice off camera, tells the girls to comply: ‘Don’t make it worse for yourselves.’ Policeman says: ‘It already is worse for yourselves.’ Continue reading Police Brutality of Young Aboriginal Girls
This is the first of a two-part reflection on the global Women’s March that occurred on 21 January 2017. This discussion expands on a post first published on 10 January, eleven days prior to the global protests. It reflects the tensions between the initial goal of the Women’s March in Washington, which aimed to be inclusive of intersectionality, and the White women who wanted to attend the March, but objected to this aim.
Despite many positive outcomes, the issues discussed here that centre on Whiteness continued to affect the attendance, experience and discussions of the marches after the event. This post examines the attitudes of White women as discussed in an article by The New York Times, which reflect the broader dissent expressed by White women who continue to oppose intersectional conversations about the Women’s March.
The issues here remain relevant not simply as women around the world reflect on the racism and exclusion they faced at the marches, but also because one of the co-organisers, Linda Sarsour, is currently facing racist backlash only days after the event.
The second part to this discussion is forthcoming and it will be a visual reflection of my attendance at the Sydney March.
The tragic and preventable injustices suffered by Indigenous Australian woman Ms Dhu deserves urgent international attention.
Earlier this week, the West Australian Coroner found that the death in custody of 22-year old Indigenous woman Ms Dhu was preventable. She was imprisoned for petty fines that White Australians are not jailed for, let alone ultimately die over. The police abuse, which included denying Ms Dhu medical attention as she lay dying and dragging her body “like a dead kangaroo,” was found to be cruel and unprofessional.
Ms Dhu died of respiratory complications due to infection. Ms Dhu was a victim of domestic violence, and like many Indigenous Australians, did not have adequate access to services and support for this trauma and her ongoing health issues.
Trigger warning on the footage: graphic violence. Footage contains images of a deceased Indigenous person.
Google+’s strong message of support for #BlackLivesMatter is significant given that many other big companies have not addressed the topic.
Along with the message below, Google tweeted:
“#AltonSterling and #PhilandoCastile’s lives mattered. Black lives matter. We need racial justice now.”
This statement is in contrast to Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook post that also addressed the death of Philando Castile – which was supportive, but did not mention his race, racism or the Black Lives Matter movement.
“My heart goes out to the Castile family and all the other families who have experienced this kind of tragedy. My thoughts are also with all members of the Facebook community who are deeply troubled by these events. The images we’ve seen this week are graphic and heartbreaking, and they shine a light on the fear that millions of members of our community live with every day. While I hope we never have to see another video like Diamond’s, it reminds us why coming together to build a more open and connected world is so important — and how far we still have to go.“
It is good to have leaders like Zuckerberg addressing Castile’s death, but White people, and companies dominated by White people, need to be more explicit in talking about, and addressing, structural racism.
Leaders with social privileges have an elevated status and they should use their power and influence constructively. For the rest of us who are ordinary folk, we need to speak up against racism all the same and look after our Black colleagues who are suffering. Continue reading Googlers: We Need Racial Justice Now
A new study shows that White people in the USA are less likely to be executed if their victims are Black. The London School of Economics notes: “This suggests not only that Blacks are treated particularly harshly for the murder of Whites, but also that homicides with Black victims are treated less seriously than those with White victims.”
I don’t support capital punishment and this law was abolished in Australia in 1967. Nevertheless, these American statistics are further proof of how racism dominates the criminal justice system.
‘SisterGirl’ is the Indigenous Australian term for transgender women (BrotherBoy for transgender men). Ahead of the Mardi Gras, sistergirls are stepping forward to address mental health and cultural acceptance. Indigenous Australians are at higher risk of suicide and mental illness than other Australians, but this risk is even higher for transgender youth, and other gay, lesbian, and bisexual Indigenous Aussies.
Sistergirl Rosalina Curtis notes that the shame and guilt of being LGBTQ is the outcome of Christianity, which was imposed on Indigenous Australians who were forcibly removed from their communities during European colonisation:
“It’s really sad to see younger sistergirls and brotherboys committing suicide because they are not being accepted by their family and friends, it’s something that really needs to be fixed. It (being transgender) is sometimes considered taboo and a lot of sistergirls growing up in traditional communities are often shunned and pushed away.
“This is an attitude that prevailed since Christian missionaries arrived within the community – changing the thoughts of our old people, but sistergirls have always been there.”
In early February in Alabama, USA, police were called to investigate an elderly Indian man simply because he was walking suburban streets. The caller identified Sureshbhai Patel as as a “skinny Black man,” and therefore suspicious. Patel had only recently arrived in the USA to help his son with his newborn baby. He did not speak English, but he complied with the officers as best he could, but he was still thrown violently to the ground. Continue reading Otherness, Racism and Police Violence
Professor Brittney Cooper’s excellent analysis of Prince’s 11-word protest at the Grammys is a must-read. Prince said: “Albums still matter. Like books and Black lives, albums still matter.” Professor Cooper notes Prince was the only artist to speak the words Black Lives Matter, in a way that linked violence against Black Americans to the devaluing of art. It was a statement against the insidious connection between racism and capitalism.
“Resisting neoliberal logics means asking why the means of self-care elude us, why the erosion of communities and schools and art is happening. Resisting means asking how the logic of neoliberalism daily forecloses our ability to be fully human.”